Adolescents with MS have lower levels of physical fitness

Teenagers with multiple sclerosis (MS) are less fit than healthy adolescents of the same age and sex, a new study has found. Researchers also found higher levels of fitness were associated with less disease activity and disability.

Published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, the study saw researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, and their colleagues compare the fitness of 19 MS patients aged 11-18 to that of 21 age and sex-matched teenagers without the condition. Performance in a cardiorespiratory fitness test, which measured maximum oxygen consumption during intense exercise, was compared. Participants also took the two-minute walk test, which is designed to assess walking endurance.

Previous research suggested that young patients with MS who practice moderate-to-vigorous physical activity have lower disease activity and disability. Physical activity also has been linked to lower occurrence of depression and fatigue.

Maximum oxygen consumption during intense exercise was lower in the young MS patients. This group also had a worse performance in the two-minute walk test. No differences were found in grip strength between the two groups, however.

Overall, these findings suggest that “youth with MS are physically unfit, and fitness level should be explored to better understand its relationship with disease activity and disability,” researchers wrote.